Soul Surgery – The Power of Confessing Our Sins Together
Have you ever been involved in the soul surgery of family or church confession to God for failure in any area? I have. I remember a time when our elders confessed their failing and when our church corporately confessed our failing in the same meeting. Members stood up, confessed their sin, and then we all prayed our confession corporately. I also remember a time when a member of our church staff confessed moral failure from the pulpit and resigned. And, I remember times in my own household when my husband and I would have to come before the Lord and confess our failure in response to a disagreement, confessing our poor responses to one another and to God.
I usually think of confession as me confessing my sins in private to God. However, sometimes our sins are public … like when we have a short fuse with the kids, or lose our patience, or criticize inappropriately, or come to the home school day ill-prepared. As I was reading Nehemiah this morning, I was reminded of how sometimes we have to corporately confess to God our failings.
God’s Favor in Confession
For example, Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer, was in great distress, sat down and wept, and mourned for days when he heard that the survivors of captivity were in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates burned with fire (Nehemiah1:1-4). In 1:6, Nehemiah confesses, “On behalf of the sons of Israel Thy servants … I and my father’s house have sinned.” He recalls God’s warning to Israel – “If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among peoples” (1:8) but then goes on to claim God’s promises for Israel in his prayer – “If you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell” (Nehemiah, 1:9; Deuteronomy 12:5; 30:2,4). Nehemiah then goes on in his prayer to ask for favor from the Lord in preparation for asking a request from the king so that he might rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. And God shows him favor (Nehemiah 2:8).
A Difficult … But Necessary Soul Surgery
Confession is a difficult thing, privately or corporately … but it is necessary. Confession is to our soul what the scalpel is to the patient’s surgery. The scalpel excises the cancerous tissue that spreads if left unattended. Confession to God, individually or corporately as a family, is an open, honest admitting of failure in response to the Holy Spirit enlightening our heart to places of failure. Confession excavates the soul. If we run and hide, we lead dual lives (and our interior and exterior lives are not in congruence).
When we open up our hearts and say to our children, “I am so sorry that I am not ready for our 9:00 lesson. Please forgive me. Let’s start at 9:30 and I will be ready.”
Or, “Johnny, yesterday I blew up at you when you did not have your essay done. Please forgive me. I see right now your own patience with me when I wasn’t ready for the day. Thank you for showing me grace and love, even though I did not extend that to you. Thank you for being a model for me.”
Or, “Let’s pray together today. I need to confess to you and to the Lord where I have fallen short in my homeschool teaching and in my response to you my precious children. If there is anything you want to confess as well, let’s make this a time of family confession so that we might begin our day with a clean slate.”
Modeling Christ to Your Children
Sometimes, the whole family goes haywire in an argument, throwing insults and jabs, or just plain being mean. Sometimes, the whole family just needs to re-calibrate through confession to one another, through grace in the mess, and through prayer together.
Let’s be realistic. No family is perfect. No person is perfect. No homeschool mom or dad is perfect. We are all growing to be more like Christ as we seek Him day to day. Perhaps your modeling confession (to God and family) regarding your own shortcomings will not only excavate your own soul, but model for your children how one navigates the Christian life day-to-day while living in a broken world.
- Lord, are there unconfessed sins in my life to which I need to attend?
- Lord, am I modeling prayerful confession to my children so they understand what it means to keep a clean slate individually, in relationships, and as a family?
- Lord, is there a family sin we need to corporately confess?
Lord, help me stay current with confession. Help me to confess when I fail and to humbly apologize to my children, to my spouse, and to You. Help me not to hide and cover but to let Your Spirit and Your Word guide me into truth … the truth about You and the truth about me. Help me live a life that is congruent, inwardly and outwardly, where I am open and honest with You and others.
Lord, I love You and I want nothing more than to do Your bidding and to pass along this vibrant faith in Jesus Christ to my children. Help me show them the way to daily living in the Spirit and to be humble when I fail. And, Lord, when I confess my sin, help me let that sin go, knowing that You have separated me from my sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and that I make a mockery of your work on the cross if I walk around hanging on to guilt. You have freed me from my sin. Hallelujah.
You are the Center of my life and I am clean. You have straightened the crooked places. I sing praises to You for all you have done and once again, present myself to You as your humble servant. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean of Education, 2/17/18